Uh Oh

You presented your product to your retail buyer.  He likes it.  A very necessary first step.  Now, he wants a meeting to see what you you’ll do to support your brand.   Uh oh...

As a toy marketer these days, there is a lot of pressure thrust upon you.  One of those pressure points relates to your media plan and what, precisely, you are going to do to support your brand.  Your media plan must deliver big time…and your retail partner has very strong ideas as to what you should be spending…where you should be spending it…and when.  They have a lot riding on your success.   Impress your buyer and you are one step closer to securing your sell in.  Upset your buyer, or let them down, and you run the risk of losing the order.  Scary.  One partner wants to see heavy advertising during peak season…with very specific weekly TV weight.  Another wants to see advertising start earlier, extending the season, lessening their risk, and ensuring a steady early flow of retail traffic.  Another buyer wants to measure your plan in relation to the competition.  All valid points, but how do we satisfy everyone (including the bean counters controlling your budget) while staying true to an effective plan?

What steps will you take to ensure a winning media plan, one that satisfies your retail partner while, at the same time, reaches your target audience, breaks through the increasing clutter…and drives your brand?  

Any smart media plan needs to first define its primary audience.  Simple enough (although this is often easier said than done).  Once defined, how do you then reach and engage your audience either nationally or in key markets (aligning with your distribution)?  Your plan needs to reach a lot of kids.   But what’s a lot?  And which kids?  And at what weight levels?  Are moms included?  Or both?  

According to Nielsen Universe Estimates (UE), there are 23,700,000 kids aged 6-11 in the United States.  Add an additional 7,421,000 in Canada, and we total a whopping  31MM kids 6-11 in North America.  That’s a lot of kids.  That number takes an exponential leap if we extend to kids 2-11 – climbing to 41,490,000 and 12,000,000 respectively, delivering 58MM kids 2-11 in North America.   So, if we are striving to reach 95% of kids within our universe, 3-5 times, what’s the magic mix?  Do we stop there, or do we go beyond reach and frequency and add another element we call engagement …and time spent with your brand?

How do you target the right kids?  How do you get them to consume your message?  Are they watching TV?  Check!  (Among Kids 0-8, 74% of kids are spending TV screen time, according to Common Sense Media).   Are they on their computers, tablets and cell phones – learning, playing and communicating with their peers?  Check! Check! Check! Are they in cars, theatres, outdoor, in-school?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes! There are so many kids – each with limited time and pre-determined routines.  It is very important that we know where to reach them…and when…and how often.  Match your dollars against share of time spent with each medium…against time spent with your brand, and you’ll arrive at a mix of media that delivers your target audience square on.  But relevancy matters, too.

How do you drive them to your brand?  Consider the stats:  America has 114.7 million TV Households (down from 115.9 million in 2011).   Why the drop in TV Households?  A bunch of logical reasons…including 1) the shift from analog to digital; 2) pure economics of owning a TV;  and  3) consumers are viewing more video content across all platforms – rather than replacing one medium with another.

Of the 7 or so National Cable TV networks that reach kids, Disney reaches 114MM households, Nickelodeon 99MM, Cartoon Network 99MM.  The other networks, including Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Sprout and Hub follow suit.   When looking to local markets, TV DMAs deliver their own numbers; California makes up for about 3,547,355 kids 5-11.  New York 1,670,158.  And Florida with 1,542,229.  The list goes on…and depending on your distribution, you may want to reach your audience where your market is…heavying up in key markets…or nationally, with local heavy ups.

But media channels are rapidly evolving and becoming more complex…While the leading Kid TV networks are fighting for eyeball attention of 2-11s and their moms – we know that the TV screen is not the only screen these days to reach and engage our target audience of kids…and their moms.  Online delivers equal if not greater reach into this channel surfing demo.  

Approximately 182 Million users are watching online video.  Kids 2-11 are among these online users, playing games, learning, and watching video.    

Add mobile phones to the mix, coupled with gaming console screens, applications on the tablets, plus time sitting in theatres, times recreationally with moms and dads, and many hours are clocked.

The best way to reach and engage your target audience of Kids 2-11, and their moms, is through a smart, blended mix of media.  Focus attention, and spending, on the platforms that deliver the greatest share of voice, then build the mix accordingly.  This calls for a mix of TV, coupled with Digital (display, pre-roll, gaming, in-app), strong support of Search (branded, category and competitive ad words), mobile apps, and an element of Social.  Where applicable, Print (consumer and trade, depending where you are in your product life cycle) and FSIs (drive to retail when targeting moms) and In-theatre (where relevant).  There are many media choices and we can’t afford for one medium to unnecessarily dilute the efforts of another, especially when one medium might deliver the lion share of our targeted eyeballs.  Most importantly, it is necessary to build a plan that delivers the reach and frequency of TV, the reach, engagement and time spent of online, and the deliverable metrics of all other media.

Build a compelling media plan, one that reaches and engages your target audience, and you are well on your way to satisfying your retail partner while delivering a winning plan that will drive awareness and product sales.

Follow the above media rules and the days of Uh Oh are over.  

David Becker, President, Blue Plate Media Services

Published 02.13.13